The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
US firm Latham & Watkins has strengthened considerably in London in the last couple of years, with the office posting a 12% turnover rise last year. The firm has over 2,100 lawyers based in 13 countries, and is a pacesetter across a number of corporate and finance practice areas, including high yield and acquisition finance. Latham was nominated for Private Equity Team of the Year and US Law Firm of the Year at the Legal Business Awards 2016.
The star performers
Acquisition finance; Banking litigation: investment and retail; Corporate restructuring and insolvency; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Corporate tax; Data protection; Debt capital markets; Derivatives and structured products; Emerging markets; Environment; Equity capital markets; Fraud: civil; High yield; International arbitration; M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+; Mining and minerals; Oil and gas; Private equity: transactions: Large-cap deal capability; Private funds.
Advised Onex Partners on its $4.6bn acquisition of the SIG Combibloc Group; represented Travis Coal Restructured Holdings in an arbitration to enforce a loan repayment; advised JP Morgan as underwriter and arranger on the €6.8bn debt financing to facilitate ChemChina’s acquisition of Pirelli; advised Vimpelcom on a cash tender offer for $2.1bn in outstanding dollar-denominated Eurobonds; advised banks including Goldman Sachs on three bonds for Altice related to its acquisition of PT Portugal.
Addison Lee; Aon; Aviva; The Carlyle Group; Deutsche Bank; Ernst & Young; Helios Investment Partners; London Metal Exchange; Nordic Capital; Sorin Group.
US firm Latham & Watkins offers aspiring trainees fantastic ‘international opportunities’ and a ‘competitive salary package’, two of the five categories which have secured the firm Lex 100 Winners medals. Many of its current trainees decided to choose the ‘expanding firm’ after an ‘excellent experience on the vacation scheme’. The ‘quality of training’ is reflected in ‘top-quality work’ and ‘high levels of responsibility’. Although this responsibility is ‘often frightening, especially at the beginning’, trainees soon find it ‘becomes exciting’ as they have the chance to work on ‘first-of-a-kind deals’. The ‘incredible training programme’ encourages trainees to be ‘autonomous and responsible rather than just spoon-fed from the outset’. The ‘small trainee intake’ results in more ‘diverse and challenging areas of work’ to experience, and trainees ‘benefit from a good support system’, including an ‘excellent mentoring system’ which allows trainees to ‘make some good friends in the close-knit teams’. Also, the ‘open-door policy’ creates a ‘relaxed atmosphere’ in the office where ‘supervisors are happy to take a lot of time to go through both the basics and more complicated issues that arise’. At times you can expect ‘demanding and unpredictable hours’ which can be ‘intense and quite exhausting’. Also, ‘workloads can vary which means trainees are either extremely busy or very quiet’. Top trainee moments include ‘travelling to Chicago for five days on a departmental retreat in the second week of training’, ‘closing a long and stressful deal’ and the ‘international secondment to New York’. This global firm provides services for ‘first-rate clients’, so if you want to excel and get your hands on ‘exciting, headline-grabbing work’ add Latham & Watkins to the list.
A day in the life of...
Laura Connolly trainee, Latham & Watkins
Departments to date: Corporate, project finance
University:Oxford (St. Peter’s)
8.45am: I check my BlackBerry as I’m leaving the house to gauge the day’s work load. A trainee from another law firm has sent me some documents that I had requested, so I quickly email back to thank him and we arrange a call for 4.00pm.
9.15am: I arrive in ‘Red & White’, the firm’s restaurant. It’s the monthly free breakfast day, so I have a bacon sandwich and sit down with a few associates and trainees. The trainee intake is small, and so we all became friends and mixed with the associates very quickly. There’s no feeling of a social hierarchy or ‘feeding chain’ at Latham.
9.30am: I have a catch up with my supervisor about the emails that came in overnight and write a joint to-do list, splitting the tasks. My favourite thing about Latham is how much trust is placed in trainees: no task is too big for me to ‘have a crack at’. As part of a corporate financing for a large listed company in the Middle East we’re negotiating term sheet comments with over ten different banks, so I discuss with my supervisor which comments may not be acceptable to our client and why.
11.15am: I join my supervisor to take a call with one of the banks to discuss their comments. The call lasts 45 minutes, after which I update the documentation; I have to use a combination of free drafting (to reflect the bespoke positions agreed on) and use of precedents.
12.30pm: Project finance monthly team lunch: the whole team is provided with a hot buffet lunch. We talk about recent developments in the project finance world, the deals going on within the team and any business development initiatives. It’s a great way to spend some time with the whole team, especially the people I haven’t yet worked with. We discuss a team day out go-karting and plan the barbeque for afterwards.
2.00pm: Back to my desk to finish off my drafting task. I discuss it with my supervisor; he gives me helpful comments and explains how to best represent our client’s position. I revise my draft based on his comments.
3.30pm: Another transaction we’re working on, a Saudi Arabian project financing, is signing soon and so I update the CP (conditions precedent) checklist based on the documents I received this morning. I review the series of documents and send the checklist back before the call at 4.00pm. On the call we talk through the updated CP documents and make sure we are on the same page as to what is outstanding.
5.00pm: I meet some of the other trainees and associates downstairs and we head to a pro bono meeting. We’re involved in a prisoners’ advice service whereby we work with a charity that offers free legal advice and support to adult prisoners in England and Wales. Aside from being a great cause, this is a great opportunity to practise our drafting and research skills and to work with people in other departments.
5.45pm: I work through the rest of my to-do list. I write some notes from the call earlier so that there’s a record of what was agreed. I begin drafting some signing instructions for the Saudi deal so that I can send them to my supervisor for review in the morning.
6.45pm: One more thing left! For my next seat, I will be going to the Hong Kong office for six months, and so I have to send some forms to HR for my visa. The East is an increasingly important part of the global commercial platform and I’m really looking forward to experiencing life and business over there.
7.15pm: After asking my supervisor if there’s anything else he needs help with, I pack up my stuff and head home for dinner.
About the firm
Address:99 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3XF
Telephone: 020 7710 1000
Fax:020 7374 4460
Managing partner : Jay Sadanandan
Other offices: Barcelona, Beijing, Boston, Brussels, Chicago, Dubai, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, Munich, New Jersey, New York, Orange County, Paris, Rome, San Diego, San Francisco, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Tokyo, Washington DC.
Who we are: Latham & Watkins is an international law firm with more than 2,100 lawyers located in the world’s major financial, business and regulatory centres.
What we do: The firm is recognised for its work advising some of the world’s leading corporates, financial institutions and private equity firms on their most significant transactions and disputes.
What we are looking for: The firm looks for outstanding people who have the potential to become exceptional lawyers. Initiative, enthusiasm, ambition, intellectual rigour and teamwork are some of the traits particularly valued at Latham. Trainees who demonstrate their motivation and ability to excel will thrive in a first-class training experience and be rewarded with a brilliant career.
What you'll do:During their four six-month seats each trainee receives bespoke supervision and outstanding support while being afforded meaningful responsibility from the outset and significant legal experience on qualification. In addition to training organised by each department, trainees also benefit from a core ‘trainee foundation’ curriculum designed to bridge the gap between law school and practice.
Perks: Healthcare, dental, cycle-to-work and pension schemes, life assurance, subsidised café and gym membership.
Sponsorship:GDL and LPC course fees are paid by the firm and reimbursed in full if a successful applicant has completed their studies. A maintenance grant of £8,000 is paid in each year of study.
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2019: 24
Applications received pa: 1,000
Percentage interviewed: 15%
First year: £45,000
Second year: £48,000
Newly qualified: Competitive
Total partners: 66
Apply to:Graduate recruitment team.
The firm runs two vacation schemes every year, each lasting two weeks. Participants spend time with different practice areas, gaining invaluable experience involving real work with real clients. Please visit the website for further details.